A defiant Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed Saturday to inaugurate “important nuclear projects” within days and lashed out at Israel, saying the “story” of the Holocaust underpinning its existence had been “smashed”.
In a speech marking the anniversary of Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, Ahmadinejad said his nation will “never yield” to Western sanctions and threats of military action from Israel and the United States.
Hamas “will never recognise Israel,” Gaza leader Ismail Haniya told the crowd just before Ahmadinejad spoke. His remarks were likely to complicate efforts to form with rival party Fatah a Palestinian unity government in the face of strong opposition from the Jewish state, which views Hamas as a terrorist organisation armed by Iran.
Ahmadinejad gave no details about the “important nuclear projects” about to be made public. However, the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has already said Iran is enriching uranium to 20 percent — a level significantly closer to military-grade 90 percent purity — at a mountain bunker near the Shiite shrine city of Qom.
An IAEA report in November said there was evidence of activities in Iran that relate to a militarised nuclear program. The United States and the European Union have ratcheted up economic sanctions on Iran to an unprecedented level to try to force it to halt the uranium enrichment and to re-engage in long-stalled talks.